Cole Whitt got his first true taste of Talladega.
Making his first start at NASCAR’s biggest and fastest track, the Camping World Truck Series rookie was swept up in The Big One on lap 13 of Saturday’s Talladega 250. Well, it wasn’t that big — only six trucks were involved — but big enough to force Whitt to pit twice to repair the No. 60.
With a battered nose and front end, Whitt went from the top 10 to restarting 25th.
“The truck was pretty fast. We rolled right up there, stayed on the yellow line and got to the bottom quick,” said Whitt, who qualified 10th. “We were trying to just buy some time. Everybody was riding around there for a little bit, just kind of riding in line. The 8 (Nelson Piquet Jr.) was getting pretty anxious to want to step out. He was right in front of me. He stepped out on the backstretch when I was giving him a shove. We kind of got locked together, then he got away from me going into (turn) three. And he lost it in three with some other trucks. Kind of ruined the day from there. It’s Talladega … everybody’s fighting for the same real estate.”
Luckily, Turn One Racing had ample time to work on the truck. In and out of the pits for multiple nose jobs — seven times in 94 laps — Whitt twice earned the free pass. He returned to the lead lap for good after the fourth caution period and used a patient, composed approach the remainder of the distance to finish 14th.
It was the 20-year-old Whitt’s fifth consecutive top-15 finish and ninth in the past 10 races. He improved to seventh in the driver standings — 12 points behind sixth-place Todd Bodine and 29 behind Timothy Peters in fifth with three events remaining.
“I’m just glad we were able to get the finish we could and try not to do anymore damage to the truck than we already had,” Whitt said. “Just let them keep working on it. It was pretty early in the race. We had plenty of time to keep working at it and make it better. The guys did a great job, but unfortunately aero is so important. We couldn’t really be a truck that could lead, and the nose was smashed in so bad we really couldn’t push, either.”
Red Bull Racing PR